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Addressing School Security Will Lend Appeal When Districts Recruit New Staff, Conference Panel Says

To address the teacher shortage, three school district administrators spoke to an AASA conference audience on Friday afternoon about how to create a safety-first culture that they contend will empower, recruit and retain teachers.

The panelists at “Lessons from Districts: How a Culture of Safety Improves Teacher Retention and Recruitment” also explained the importance of using data from school safety programs to allocate resources for supporting their staff and students.

The school leaders described their use of CrisisAlert, a safety product that delivers precise alert location and immediate audio and visual incident notifications. It is activated via a wearable badge, given to each staff member, making it more convenient to report any safety issues.

Both Trent North, superintendent of Douglas County School System in Georgia, and Wayne Vickers, superintendent of Alabaster City Schools in Alabama, said implementing this system not only has allowed staff to feel safe and prevented serious incidents, but it also has attracted new teachers to their schools.    

“My teachers love it,” North said. “They enjoy being able to activate crisis alert because it takes pressure off of them and it validates the support provided to teachers by allowing them to get help quickly, and conveniently.”

Alysse Daniels, senior regional vice president of CENTEGIX, which makes the product, added that CrisisAlert isn’t just for prevention of major incidents, but it helps with the day-to day needs as well.

Chris Farkas, chief of operations for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, said security systems have helped save a choking student in his district because of its pinpoint location alert feature.

The superintendents said their use helped the school districts build trust with their staff. The wearable badges show faculty and other staff that their judgment is valued by administrators.

North urged superintendents to implement these security measures in their schools to help prevent threats of violence and to help with quicker, more efficient reactions.      

(Samara Penny is a reporting intern for Conference Daily Online and a junior at Judson High School in Converse, Texas.)

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